Episcopal Relief & Development has reached out to its Haitian partners in an effort to determine the extent of the damage and coordinate a swift response.
"The agency has already disbursed emergency funding to the Diocese of Haiti to help them meet immediate needs such as providing shelter, food and water, and stands ready to support their ongoing recovery as they rebuild their ministries," said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development. "As communication improves and recovery plans develop, Episcopal Relief & Development will continue to provide updates."
Interim Director for International Programs Kirsten Muth commented, "We are committed to a long-term response and recovery effort with our partners in the Diocese of Haiti. It is one of the largest and perhaps most socially engaged dioceses of the Episcopal Church with an extensive network of schools and health services."
"In addition to other programming, the agency has supported the Diocesan Development Program for many years through a central Development Office and network of 28 development agents, all of whom have received training in disaster response and management," Muth continued. "We know that in the wake of this disaster, these community agents will use this training to coordinate their efforts with local authorities."
While the full extent of the damage has yet to be determined, preliminary reports show that Port-au-Prince has suffered severely. Recent estimates indicate that at least three million people have been affected by the earthquake. In addition to the destruction of innumerable homes, many major structures have been reduced to rubble including the presidential palace, the UN peacekeeper compound and the nation's Diocesan headquarters.
"Even under 'normal' circumstances, Haiti struggles to care for her 9 million people. The nation is the poorest in the western hemisphere, and this latest disaster will set back many recent efforts at development," said Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori in a statement Wednesday morning. "I urge your concrete and immediate prayers in the form of contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development, who are already working with the Diocese of Haiti to send aid where it is most needed."
To donate to the Haiti Fund, visit www.er-d.org or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please put "Haiti Fund" in the memo line of all checks. In addition, Episcopal Relief & Development is preparing a bulletin insert, which will be available on its website.
Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus' words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens communities today to meet tomorrow's challenges. We rebuild after disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.